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Less Than Hero

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  246 ratings  ·  46 reviews
With the razor-sharp satire that earned him rave reviews for Big Egos and Lucky Bastard, among others, S.G. Browne delivers another irresistible read, about an unlikely band of heroes who use their medical complications to gain fame, confront villains, and bring their own unique brand of justice to New York City.

Faster than a spreading rash! More powerful than dry heaves!
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Gallery Books
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3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  246 ratings  ·  46 reviews

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Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Pages read: 187

I've been struggling slowly through Less Than Hero for a number of days. It was one of the books contributing to my slump. Still, I wanted to finish it, because there's a lot that's very clever about this book. I really like the concept, which is superheroes as a social commentary on our pharmaceutical culture. That part is top notch.

My problem lies in the characters. They're all flat and stereotyped, aside, maybe, from the first person POV MC, Lloyd, who is just kind of boring an
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015-reads

Less Than Hero is a fun new look at the superhero genre inspired by ridiculous drug side effects, human pharmaceutical testers and outcast superheroes like the Mystery Men, the X-Men and the duo in M. Night Shyamalan's only other good film: Unbreakable.

It was also originally a short story entitled "Dr. Lullaby" in Browne's collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel.

Have you read Browne's second novel Fated? The two tales take place in the
Carl Alves
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Less Than Hero, S.G. Browne presents an entirely different take on the superhero genre than anything I have ever read before. Typically, superheroes have cool powers like the ability to fly, or super strength, or speed. In this novel, Lloyd and his band of heroes do things like put people to sleep, make them develop rashes all over their bodies, and blow up like human version of the Goodyear blimp. Not exactly an astounding array of powers. Not to mention the way they obtain their powers is q ...more
June Kramin
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Words cannot describe how much I enjoyed this novel. Just like with Fated, I wanted to keep notes from almost the first page so I could try to do a review some justice. I didn’t and really regret it, but maybe too much detail would make for spoilers. There is just so much to love about Lloyd. His personality is hysterical, yet so real I’m sure everyone will see a bit of themselves in him. His friends are a ton of fun as well. The one-liners are endless – I couldn’t count all the LOL moments. Les ...more
May 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on

What is it with authors failing to work on plot development or pacing and instead spending their time in waffling and condescending lectures directed at their audience? Authors - you are not as smart or capable as you think you are. Boring. Moving on.
joey (thoughts and afterthoughts)
[See the full review at thoughts and afterthoughts.]

Rating: 3.5/5

Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:

— Features the everyday apathetic hero fueled by ridiculous abilities (i.e. makes people vomit on will)
— Narrative follows a first-person POV, character vignettes, and snippets of news articles
— Socioeconomic diversity in characterization albeit non-descript nature of a [mostly] male cast
— Well paced, dialogue-driven page turner that can often find itself struggling wit
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Deuxième roman de cet auteur publié en moins d'un an, après l'excellent "La Destinée, la mort et moi : comment j'ai conjuré le sort" , sorti en fin d'année 2016.

On y retrouve les qualités d'écriture du Monsieur : dialogues ciselés, personnage forts, humour sous-jacent (bien qu'il soit un poil moins présent que dans ses romans précédents).

L'histoire se déroule à New-York, et on y suit un groupe de cobayes volontaires qui testent des médicaments pour les labos pharmaceutiques. Chacun d'entre eux y
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I enjoyed this one.. Lloyd is the Everyman who wants to make a difference in a world gone to doo-doo. I especially enjoyed the cameo of Fate and Destiny and the more I think about it the more I'm sure it was my own Destiny to read Mr. Browne's books in this particular order so I could appreciate the crossover between books. Makes me wonder what path I'm on... I like to think it's Destiny, but more times than not I envision my path being Fate. I guess only time will tell.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lloyd gagne sa vie en avalant différentes sortes de médicaments, pas toujours homologables, afin de faire avancer la recherche (ou plutôt l’industrie) pharmaceutique. Alors rien d’étonnant au fait qu’un jour, lui et ses amis cobayes se rendent compte que, peut-être, les nombreux tests ont laissés sur leurs corps un effet secondaire assez exceptionnel. Comme à son habitude, S.G. Browne parle de sujets sérieux d’un style satirique et léger, que ce soient l’hypocrisie de la pharmacologie ou les « d ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
I was looking for new-to-me authors at my public library. This book was the first I found.

I loved it! It amused me. It has some killer stats. It reminded me that there's a fine line between a hero, a superhero, and a villain. It's about slackers who become more. It's about fate. It's about karma.

It kept me reading all afternoon.
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a really offbeat book, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. The story itself is a little strange, but very inventive and unique, which always left me wanting more when I had to put it down. The narrator is an incredibly likeable character, and his situation spoke to me on a very personal level. I would highly recommend to anyone who is more into odd books.
I found Less Than Hero to be mostly hilarious and occasionally insightful. It was just what I needed. Randy's use of band names to convey meaning was amazingly fun to play along with. To me, this book was almost The Humans by Matt Haig meets The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder.
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loveable loser Lloyd, a college graduate with a marketing degree, unable to find a job in his chosen field, cobbles together a livelihood from participating in drug trials and panhandling in Manhattan after being rescued from the clutches of abject poverty by a living pixie statue who hurts everything and everyone she loves by blowing glitter all over the place. Lloyd adores Sophie, but he’s not really sure what to do with her—he doesn’t feel successful or grown-up enough to make a long-term com ...more
S. G. Browne has written a contemporary, change of pace novel that packs a strong message in a wrapper of fun.

"Less than Hero" is a social commentary introducing Lloyd Prescott, a thirty-year-old professional guinea pig. For the past five years he's participated in over 150 clinical trials.

The pharmaceutical companies have volunteers who test experimental drugs for cash. In a typical month, Lloyd can make over $3,000. He also has a part-time job where he stands in Central Park with various sign
Andrea Blythe
Apr 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fic-scifi, fiction
3.5 stars

I wasn't as in to Less Than Hero as I have been with other books by S.G. Browne (and when I say that keep in mind that I LOVED Breathers and Fated). This was in part my own fault, as I went into reading this expecting more of an action-packed style superhero satire and was presented with more of a character driven pharmaceuticals satire. I should have expected this having read other books by Browne.

Lloyd Prescott is a professional guinea pig — that is, an otherwise healthy person paid
Alex Telander
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
It usually only takes a reader a couple of pages to know they’re reading an S. G. Browne novel, as they wrap their minds around a weird and wacky story, and Less Than Hero is another great, prime example of this. Here’s your one-sentence premise: what if some guys who have been human guinea pigs for years, testing new drugs and medications, suddenly developed stranger super powers?

Lloyd Prescott has been in the guinea pig program for a number of years now and it’s what he makes his living from.
Jason Donnelly
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to read this beast before it was released and am I glad I did! While, Scott said that there are a few differences between the advanced copy I read and the final, I still loved it. AND, the visitations of characters from past novels was a tip of the hat to fans of his previous work.

Hopefully I don't spoil anything, but this is your only warning...

The superheroes are awesome. You've NEVER seen a superhero like this, I mean, amnesia? Rashes? Freaking hallucinations? I loved it.
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review first published on My Blog.

What happens when your life doesn't end up going the way you expected and instead of being a highly successful businessman, you end up as a "professional" guinea-pig for the pharmaceutical companies? What does taking that many experimental drugs for years do to a person, both physically and mentally? Lloyd has been doing this for 5 years now and his life is just drifting along until he starts noticing that when he feels super tired and then let's out a big yawn,
This is a superhero story with a side of moral outrage. Lloyd and his buddies are the guys who have slipped through the cracks, who live in the ether between the economic classes, hanging on my the skin of their teeth (and the pharmaceuticals in their blood). When the drug trials they are endlessly volunteering for somehow result in their gaining bizarre superpowers, each has a reaction unique to his identity: denial, childlike enthusiasm, resigned acceptance, delusions of grandeur, and supervil ...more
William Bentrim
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Less Than Hero by S.G. Browne

This is black humor at it's peak. The main protagonist is an aimless young man who panhandles and sells his body for drug trials. The travesty of his life is illustrated by his lack of ambition and his less than stellar personality. How he and a band of not so merry misfits impact New York City is the basis of the story.

Lloyd is an unlikeable protagonist with a sub-teen level of ambition and maturity. The author has a distinctly different look at life. In the last b
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Less Than Hero is a superhero yarn with a neat twist; the superheroes are products of a group of professional pharma guinea pigs.

Overall the author spins a decent superhero yarn, including everything from origin stories, to moral angst of what to do with super powers, concluding with handling super villains. It hits all of the basics of a superhero tale and does is in an entertaining enough fashion to merit 3 stars.

However, the book can be a little plodding at times which is a shame considering
Henry Lazarus
Mar 21, 2015 rated it liked it
S. C. Browne introduces us to a group of human guinea pigs who earn enough money by testing prescription drugs to float through life. Lloyd is one of them. He also panhandles in central park with funny signs like “Will take verbal abuse for money.” He has a permanent girl friend, Sophia who is a manager at an office, but also moonlights as a living statue of a fairy in the park. Then his small group of Less Than Hero (trade from Gallery Books) guinea pigs develop the ability to send drug side- e ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi
Less Than Hero is certainly an off-beat superhero story, with a very original origin story for it's bumbling would-be saviors and villains. I found it to be a pleasant read, but not very gripping or earthshaking. The pace is leisurely with a few brief bouts of action, and the main character is a bit of a non-entity. Too much of the book is given over to his internal monologues, and as is often the case with superheroes, the villains are much more interesting than the protagonist. However, they ...more
Nov 02, 2015 rated it liked it
In the crowded, hit-or-miss genre of misfit superheroes, Less than Hero settles comfortably in the middle of the pile. Millennials will no doubt appreciate the core group of young-ish New Yorkers who become professional pharmaceutical guinea pigs (and Central Park panhandlers/buskers) for lack of any better job opportunities. The book races along, amusingly if somewhat predictably, to a fairly enjoyable conclusion. It manages to avoid the dark tone of most superhero chronicles, though at the exp ...more
Lloyd Prescott, the hero of Less Than Hero, is a guy who says, "I haven't so much participated in my life as I've watched it like a spectator, hoping my team finds a way to win". I like this guy, it's safe to say he's not pretentious. He has another positive attribute, he has trouble ignoring the suffering of people around him, including those he doesn't know, the homeless, the lonely. He would invite Eleanor Rigby over for dinner. He just can't turn away and this makes him an important hero of ...more
Sean Randall
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this both as a story, a warning on the prevalence of proscription medication and, of course, a discussion on fait and destiny and all that sort of heavy stuff you only worry about when you have to. The best thing about this work for me was the voice; the whole story had this very authentic, drifting through life quality so few, few people will admit to having. I would read more of the author.
May 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
How often do you find an indictment of the pharmaceutical industry and an insider's eating tour of Manhattan in one book? I can't decide what's more pleasurable here - the ensemble cast, with their traits and foibles, the funny plot, full of gentle violence, or the myriad scenes that take place in restaurants like Veselka, Cafe Reggio, KGB bar, Curry in a Hurry, and markets like Zabar's and Deluxe Food Market. Remind me to go to Doughnut Plant next time we're in NYC.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Introducing Lloyd Prescott. He's fighting on the front lines of medical science to defend your right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of antidepressants. His superhero name is Dr. Lullaby. Which is, you have to admit, a great nickname for a drug pusher.

Full review here:

Jun 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I love S.G. Browne. He has some very clever story ideas and his protagonists are always very identifiable and empathetic. This story was a fun take on the idea of "super powers" and what it would be like if your "power" wasn't really all that spectacular or cool. It was funny, clever and also very thoughtful in a soul-searching, "what am I doing with my life?" way.
Amy Braun
Nov 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another excellent S. G. Browne book filled with his trademark style. A fun– if mildly disgusting– look at superpowers and the obscene amount of harmful drugs in the world today. I found the ending to be touching, and didn't mind the semi-lingering cliffhanger at the end. A definite must-read for all superhero fans. Loved it!
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S.G. Browne - Author: Less Than Hero Interview 1 5 May 08, 2018 09:08AM  
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S.G. Browne is the author of the novels Less Than Hero, Big Egos, Lucky Bastard, Fated, and Breathers, as well as the eBook short story collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel and the heartwarming holiday tale I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus.

He loves dark comedies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and is a sucker for It's a Wonderful Life. You can learn more about S.G. Browne and his writing at www.s
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